Foot problems can run the spectrum from nuisance to seriously painful. While some like bunions and hammertoes are more common in women, there are many foot problems that both men and women suffer from equally. Understanding why these types of problems occur is the best way to prevent them or reduce their impact on your daily activities.
If you have bunions, you can blame improper biomechanics and genetics. One of the most common foot issues, a bunion is a bony protrusion that develops along the outside of the big toe. The bone and tissue surrounding the joint (metatarsophalangeal, MTP) become misaligned due to undue pressure on the toes.
Bunions can form if your foot puts too much stress on the MTP joint. According to WebMD, " about 10-25% of people have bunions" and they can happen at any age. People with flat feet and low or fallen arches are more susceptible to developing bunions, but other causes include:
While ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, and bunion pads can help alleviate pain, once a bunion forms, only surgery will truly fix the problem. That is why it is important to take care of your feet before bunions form.
Fixing the biomechanical problems that cause bunions can not only halt the growth, but it can also halt the development of other foot conditions that result from bunions including hammer toe, corns and calluses.
To address your biomechanical issues, start by adding insoles with firm arch support to your footwear. Soft, cushy insoles won't provide your feet with proper support to correct your pronation. Make sure you're buying firm insoles that match the contours of your feet.
In addition to using insoles, wearing the right shoes will make a big difference. Choose footwear with roomy toe boxes and avoid narrow shoes or high heels.
There are three main causes of corns and calluses:
The easiest ways to prevent corns and calluses include:
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot. The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is the feeling of pain and stiffness in your heel that is often worse in the morning.
There are many reasons you could be more likely to develop plantar fasciitis - you have flat feet or high arches, are an overpronator, wear improper footwear, have had a traumatic injury, or have limited ankle mobility.
Treatments for plantar fasciitis typically start with reducing inflammation, stretching and strengthening the muscles around your ankle, foot and calf, and protecting the plantar fascia from further trauma. The majority of people who develop plantar fasciitis recover within 6 months with the use of home treatments.
High heels and shoes with tight toe boxes are causes of hammer toe. Poor shoe choice is aggravated by underlying biomechanical irregularities including:
Flat feet - As your arch over flattens, your toes are forced to stabilize the foot. This causes increased pressure on your toe joints.
High arches – People with high arches often have imbalances in the different tendons in the toes (extensor and flexor), which can result in hammer toes.
Bunions – Bunions will push your big toe towards the smaller ones. This can put undue stress on the smaller toe joints.
You can help to prevent hammer toes by wearing shoes that fit correctly and have wide toe boxes, but you also have to correct the underlying biomechanical issues that cause them. Firm, flexible inserts that match the contour of your arches will stabilize your feet and slow or prevent hammer toes.
The main causes of Morton's Neuroma include:
Choosing the proper footwear can help prevent you from developing Morton's Neuroma. Look for shoes with wide toe boxes, thick soles, and heels less than two inches.
Most foot specialists recommend insoles to both treat and prevent Morton's Neuroma. Firm insoles that correct overpronation, combined with metatarsal pads that take pressure of your metatarsal bones will alleviate the pain Morton's Neuroma can cause.
Each of your feet has more than 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and they all play an important role in your mobility. When one of them is injured, it impacts your daily life. However, because your foot is so anatomically complex, it can be hard to figure out which tendon is causing your foot pain.
When any of your tendons become inflamed, the result is tendinitis, sometimes spelled tendonitis. To get an official diagnosis and treatment plan, you'll want to see a medical professional for an evaluation.
The various types of tendinitis that can occur in your feet include:
While tendinitis can be painful and impact your exercise routine and daily life, it is usually a minor problem that is easily treatable. Depending on the type of tendinitis you have, your doctor may recommend resting, stretching, icing and arch support insoles.
While overtraining or a sudden increase in training can set off PFPS, an imbalance is the underlying cause of the condition. There are two types of imbalance:
Symptoms of runners knee include pain in the front of the knee, a grinding or crunching sensation in the knee, swelling on the front of the knee, worsening pain when you're moving, and stiffness after rest.
Women are twice as likely to develop runner’s knee than men due to having wider hips that cause the thighbones to meet the knee at a greater angle than men's, putting the kneecap under more stress. Insoles can help by addressing the biomechanical problems that can cause runner’s knee.
Stress fractures are common and can occur in the feet, lower legs and upper legs. While both men and women can develop stress fractures, female athletes develop these injuries at a higher rate than male athletes.
Older women who have gone through menopause are at risk for stress fractures due to reduced estrogen. Estrogen helps your bones process the calcium they need for optimal growth, and the reduced presence of this hormone in the body can lead to osteoporosis.
There are several causes of lower-extremity stress fractures:
You can reduce your risk of stress fractures by eating healthy, training properly, and wearing the right footwear. Adding arch support insoles that correct biomechanical issues that lead to improper stride, uneven impact absorption, and most importantly, stress fractures, can help you prevent this common injury.
There are ways to wear high heels and avoid the most common foot pain conditions:
Ballet flats are also an option for women's professional wardrobe. Flats distribute weight more evenly over the entire foot, but their lack of support can lead to other problems, including overpronation.
The best way to provide extra structure in ballet flats to help prevent foot issues is by using arch support insoles made for shoes without removable inserts.
There are 2 main reasons women's feet change during pregnancy:
While foot issues may be inevitable during pregnancy, there are specific ways pregnant women can take care of their feet:
When you've decided it's time to see someone about your foot pain, choosing which type of medical provider to see is the next step. There are several types of specialists you could see, so it's helpful to understand the differences between them.
To find a provider who delivers excellent quality of care, you'll want to ask for recommendations from your primary care doctor, friends, family and network.
Questions? Drop us a line at email@example.com. We're here to help.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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